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Employee Spotlight

Finding Confidence out of the Comfort Zone

An assistant teaching professor of information systems (IS), Katy Reese encourages her students at the BYU Marriott School of Business to step outside of their comfort zones. Drawing from her own educational experience, she guides students in developing the confidence needed to confront and conquer complex IS concepts, mirroring the support she received from her own mentors.

Professional headshot of a business woman with brown hair and a royal blue shirt with a black blazer.
Reese is an assistant teaching professor of information systems at BYU Marriott.
Photo courtesy of BYU Marriott.

When Reese took the introductory IS course as an undergraduate student, she felt inadequate because she thought she needed a background in coding or other technical skills. “I remember walking into my IS 201 class most days and feeling so intimidated. I did not know what was going on,” Reese explains.

But as she progressed through the semester, she discovered her love for the subject. "As time went on, I enjoyed it. I saw that if I put in the work, I could do it,” Reese says.

Reese still wasn’t considering IS as a major, but a conversation with her TA changed Reese’s perspective. The TA encouraged her to major in IS, and Reese was quick to disagree, citing her lack of experience. The TA responded, “That is the purpose of school. You pay tuition and show up, and the professors teach you what you need to know.”

That moment sparked Reese’s commitment to studying the once daunting subject. “IS stretched me and I learned a lot in the process. I figured if I am paying tuition and if I am putting forth the work, I might as well learn something I enjoy,” Reese explains.

Three years later, Reese graduated from BYU Marriott with a master’s degree in IS and began a job in Houston at ExxonMobil. In Texas, Reese worked as a cloud identity engineer, maintaining and developing cloud systems for the natural gas company. “I learned a lot while I was there, but ultimately, I just kept feeling like I wanted to go and teach,” Reese shares. So she decided to act on that feeling.

Reese’s heart was set on teaching at BYU Marriott so she could combine her two passions—the gospel and teaching. She reached out to her BYU Marriott professors for advice and discovered that the college offers some positions that focus primarily on teaching and not on research, which was exactly what Reese wanted.

But Reese wasn’t hopeful that a position would be open soon. “I learned that teaching professor roles are rare and there are very few of them,” she explains. “After those email conversations, I didn’t expect anything to happen anytime soon.”

A man and a woman stand on the grass with a frozen river and snowy mountains in the background.
Reese and her husband were married two weeks before she started her position at BYU Marriott in 2020.
Photo courtesy of Katy Reese.

However, a position at BYU Marriott opened up a few months later, and connecting with those professors turned out to be just the right move for Reese. “I feel like those emails were inspired. Because I reached out before the opportunity was even available, I was able to put my name on the radar. When the positioned opened up, a couple people reached out to encourage me to apply,” Reese says. “I felt like God was in the details of that whole process.”

By December 2020, Reese was hired and began her teaching career. “It was a weird identity shift to come back to teach just a few years after being a student. I’ve always loved BYU, so I was grateful for the opportunity,” Reese says.

At BYU Marriott, Reese teaches IS 201: Introduction to Management Information Systems and IS 415: Machine Learning. “I love being able to play a part in the learning of a student. It has been so fun,” Reese shares.

To encourages students the same way her professors encouraged her to learn new things, Reese tells her students, “If you’re going to come to school, there is power in working toward something.” She adds, “I think it’s exciting to learn something new that you didn’t have previous exposure to.”

Reese recognizes how stepping outside of her comfort zone and leaning on her relationship with God led to many opportunities. She aims to help her students recognize that same potential in themselves. “If I can give any piece of advice,” Reese shares, “it is to remember that God is in the details. As you stay close to God and keep your covenants, you will keep learning throughout your life, and everything will work out.”


Written by Kacee Call